Under my skin – my acne journey [Part 1]

Under my skin – my acne journey [Part 1]

Helurrr beautiful people and HAPPY 2018! I hope that you were all safe this festive season and are diving head first into this new year.

Let’s get straight into this one because there’s A LOT that has happened with my skin. Let me start off by saying that I have not retouched any of the pictures posted. Whilst I still have scarring, I love my skin. I am proud of these no-makeup pictures because my skin is healthy! It feels so soft and smooth…even though I do use makeup on special occasions, I love my natural state now. I’m going to be quite blunt here so please read with an open mind – as always, this is my journey that I’ve chosen to share with you in the hopes that it might help you with something similar that you may be dealing with. I’m not going to tell you that what worked for me will work for you, but do your research please. I read as many articles and blogs that I could before I even considered seeking professional help. Unfortunately, this meant me trying all sorts of things that probably made it all worse – so BE CAREFUL with your skin and what you allow near it. You have to understand that everyone’s skin is different and needs to be cared for/treated differently.

As a teenager, I got the occasional breakout around the time of month that satan came to visit. If you read my previous posts, you would gather that during my pregnancy, my hormones were obviously messed up – BUT this lead to perfect skin and hair for me! (This obviously created a delayed reaction, which I experienced last year – crap skin came my way!) Fast forward into my early 20’s, I discovered (and could afford) makeup so we all know how that went. Let’s be honest here, nobody really believed in a 150 step skincare regime…heck I would pat myself on the back if I woke up without last night’s makeup all over my pillow. I know it’s gross but I was lazy. I’m not even going to fight that one. Further breakouts ensued and me picking at them just lead to scars – which needed more makeup to cover (I was in a loop of bad skin and even worse decisions.)

My first dermatologist 

I must have been around 21 when I was convinced that I needed to go on Roaccutane because a family member (who didn’t have a blemish ever!) was on it and she was literally glowing. I made my appointment and the doctor prescribed very mild antibiotics with a sh*t load of aftercare – I’m talking thousands of rands worth of gels, creams, washes (I could have opened up a pharmacy). With my medical savings exhausted half way through the year, I was determined to get perfect skin. I didn’t follow the recommended usage instructions of the aftercare – who does that really? obviously increasing the usage will speed things up – Ha what a doos was I. Ended up looking like Fester Addams. I burned my skin and undereye area. I’m an NC42 in MAC so I’m a little light in complexion…can you imagine what a mess I looked like?? (you must imagine because I didn’t take any pictures for months). My concealer and foundation cracked all over my skin after minutes of applying – I really made everything worse. I didn’t go back to the doctor because I knew that she would kak me out for not listening. So I did what every self-respecting person with no clue does and stopped everything – medication, aftercare, makeup, EVERYTHING. It was so hard going to work looking like Fester but my friends and family were supportive. A few months later, my skin was amazing and healthy. I didn’t use any makeup or any skincare products for atleast 2 years – I literally washed my face with dove soap and used whatever lotion I had for my body.

Enter Cape Town

I moved to Cape Town in July 2016 and the change in climate really affected my skin. I also started using makeup again and was convinced by YouTube that I needed a skincare regime. I started with L’Oreal products – a face wash, toner and moisturiser which was a simple start. I have to admit that my junk food intake increased tremendously and gym slowed down a little. I got the occasional pimple / blackhead / whitehead and didn’t pay it any attention. Around October, I had noticed a lot of red bumps on my forehead and discoloration around my mouth. I thought it would pass because it always did but I did start watching more videos about how other people dealt with bad skin (even though mine wasn’t as bad as theirs). I ended up changing my skincare to Clinique but added other brands as well. I overloaded my skin with Clinique washes/creams/toners, Apple Cider Vinegar and added Farsali into the mix – what a mistake. Alot of people rave about these brands/products and swear by them – it didn’t work for me, my skin deteriorated.

And then there was Ordinary

Once again, the Ordinary range is hyped alot and works for so many people – just not me. I added serums and creams to my already crowded skincare regime for a few months. I held out because a lot of people said that ‘purging’ is normal – purging is basically it getting worse before it gets better. Mine just got worse. My skin was inflamed, scarred and painful to the touch. I had these huge red and white pimples all over my face – I would get atleast 3-5 new ones every day. I was in hell. I tried putting makeup on but it looked horrible and felt even worse. It affected my life. Every aspect of my life was affected and I honestly didn’t want to leave the house. This went on for a few months until I exhausted all of my options and made an appointment with a Dermatologist.

I have included pictures that I took 3 months before I had my visit so that you can see how bad it got…and how quick it happened. These are raw images that I took with my iPhone.

Enter Dr Jonathan Smith

I saw Dr Smith at the end of September 2017 and he prescribed me an antibiotic and a gel to apply overnight. The antibiotic was so strong, I had nausea and a troubled tummy for the entire week that I took it. I called him the next week and he had me come in to pick up another prescription for a milder antibiotic. It’s worth mentioning that my face felt better after the 2nd day – THE 2ND DAY!!! The inflammation, pain and new pop-ups stopped completely. By the 4th day, my skin felt smoother to the touch and I was over the moon. He prescribed the medication and gel for 2 months and I was to schedule a follow up visit after the fact. I will let the pictures speak below.

I will be visiting him next week to discuss my skin further but this has been an eye-opening journey. I will not be providing the details of the medication that I was on because they were prescribed specifically for my skin condition and type. The fact that they need a prescription is proof that they should only be provided by a medical professional that has assessed you personally and understands your skin as well as lifestyle. You should definitely exhaust all possible options before seeing a dermatologist. A few possibilities :

  • Increase your water intake (trust me, your body needs it!)
  • Slow down the junk food (not only will your skin benefit but your body will love you for it.)
  • Give your face a break from makeup now and then – let it breathe and enjoy your natural beautiful state.
  • Wash your face every single night (enough said)
  • Be gentle on your face, the skin is much more sensitive so be mindful of that.
  • In addition to the above point, don’t overwhelm your face with 150 different products – find what works for your skin and keep it simple. Healthy skin shouldn’t cost you your sanity.

Whilst the above steps may help some people, take the time to understand your skin type and embrace it. We are all beautiful irrespective of what we look like, but sometimes acne affects you on the inside way more than it does on the outside. I would love to tell you that it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, but that won’t change the sinking feeling you get when you look in the mirror and don’t like what you see. I’ve been there, heck I’m still there – but I am dealing with me and learning to love myself more. Do research and learn about what actually causes things rather than just buying a crap load of creams/oils recommended by someone with flawless skin. Also, don’t compare yourself or put yourself in someone else’s category. You were made unique for a reason – embrace your uniqueness and make it work for you!

Thank you for taking the time to read my story and please keep a look out for Part 2 – it will include my current skincare routine and an update from my follow up Dermatologist visit. I will also include reviews of the (many) products I used that didn’t help my skin situation – a totally objective review of course!


The societal challenge – do you fit the mould? Should you?

The societal challenge – do you fit the mould? Should you?

Helurrr everyone! Welcome to my very first blog post! I am really excited to finally share this with you as I’ve been working on it forever… (It sure does feel that way to me). This is obviously a very controversial topic and I believe it is applicable to all culture and race groups. However, due to my Indian heritage, I will be speaking from personal experience for the most part. Be that as it may, I am pretty sure that you will be able to identify with most of what I have to say because we’re all human at the end of it all. So grab a nice cup of your favourite blend and enjoy!


First things first, let’s address my actual composition (one part cupcake and 2 parts sarcasm lol) – my first name is Muslim and my last is Hindu (Tamil to be specific). I almost always get weird looks when I introduce myself and have developed a very generic response: “My mother is Muslim and my father is Tamil.” For some, that is enough and is usually followed by a slight chuckle at the thought (I assume some Romeo & Juliet scene about forbidden love probably). BUT there is the odd person who feels like they deserve more because it’s not fair to make such a bold statement and not explain what happens next. To that I explain that my dad converted (changed his religion) in order to marry my mum the Muslim way (they made nikkah) and we followed Islam. Now that we have that little backstory out of the way, let’s carry on.


For those of you wondering what on earth the title is about – trust me, there is a mould that society measures everyone against. And whilst this mould pertains to both male and female, I feel like females have it worse because we’re always made aware of how far off we are from the ‘perfect woman/girlfriend/daughter/mother, etc.’ In the Indian culture specifically, a lot of emphasis is put on the colour of your skin, the texture of your hair, straightness of your teeth and your body shape. If you were light skinned with long straight hair, had a smile like you worked for Aquafresh and were slim with a big bust and somewhat round booty – you were just perfect.

*Disclaimer: I have absolutely nothing against anyone who has the features I mentioned above and I am in no way stating that your physical appearance has any bearing on what kind of a person you are. You rock girl! Go on with your bad self!


At school:

Enter me, an extremely skinny, medium toned teenager with frizzy hair for days and teeth that were all over the place. Firstly, being a teenage girl is hard enough when you’re trying to figure out what’s happening to your body (or not happening), reacting to boys, keeping up relations with your mother… it’s a little much tbh. AND THEN you are made fun of because of your hair and your flat chest (which kind of deflects from your other undesirable physical traits so you run with it). Pretty soon you’re stuffing your bra, begging your mother to pay for expensive hair treatments and wearing shorts underneath your jeans. The. Struggle. Is. Real. Eventually, going out with your friends becomes torture because it doesn’t matter how many hours it takes you to get ready, you’re never going to look like the chick who is filling up DD’s.


With your family:

There is always that one aunty whose first line when she sees you is: “So dark you gone”, or “Your mother doesn’t feed you?” This is usually followed by her showcasing her own daughter who is your age but resembles Wonder Woman. (Side note: the movie was absolutely epic and you should totally watch it if you haven’t already!) Every single family function or get together ends up the same and you start to slowly resent them. Not for what they are but for how you feel when you realise that you are a 14 year old girl who is trapped in a 10 year old boy’s body and you shouldn’t look like that. Funny how we place so much emphasis on what is going on outside rather than focusing on building what is inside.


Growing up and into motherhood:

I’m not sure whether this happens everywhere but I feel like people expect that a mother should either look like a hot mess or like Victoria Beckham. BUT, very strong opinions are tied to both scenarios. If you look like a hot mess then you are doing a great job with your kids, taking care of your husband and you probably clean your house 3 times a day – you just ‘let yourself go’. Ooooh jirre! I can just die when I hear that phrase. So what if you don’t want to look like you just came off the runway, you do you, boo. Then there’s the supermodel mother whose hair is always on point and always looks like she wakes up with a perfect contour. “You must not give your kids a bath and there’s no way you’re cooking for your husband every day – you probably don’t even make your bed’. Ooooh shem! In what world! Good for you doll! Without taking anything away from the woman who does not wear designer heels, I applaud the woman who is able to colour coordinate and have her eyebrows done perfectly every day. To whoever is reading this, if you walk around with your comfy pair of Nikes (that’s me btw), prefer a long sweater and cool leggings or if you cannot leave the house without looking like you stole Victoria’s Secret – YOU FREAKING ROCK GIRL!


People need to stop putting so much pressure on girls and women and expecting them to look a certain way. We need to guide and nurture the already beautiful soul that is within and let her flourish. Let her be so confident in herself that she does not need any approval from anyone. You will find that once you allow a girl to grow the way God intended, she will be nothing short of majestic. So mothers, sisters, aunties, whoever you are, you first need to realise that you are damn beautiful! Once you believe that, start imparting that onto every girl you are lucky enough to meet. We need to build each other by building ourselves. It doesn’t matter what shape, size or shade you are, you are created perfectly and you ought to be proud of yourself.


I read this quote somewhere (I honestly can’t remember where), but I found it so powerful and true:


“The presence of one woman’s beauty is not the absence of yours.”


Thank you so much for reading